Undernews is the online report of the Progressive Review, edited by Sam Smith, who has covered Washington during all or part of one quarter of America's presidencies and edited alternative journals since 1964. The Review has been on the web since 1995. See main page for full contents

February 28, 2009


CNN - Arne Duncan, the Cabinet secretary charged with overhauling America's educational system, is studying programs that keep kids in school longer to boost their academic achievements. "When I go out and talk about that, that doesn't always make me popular with students. They like the long summers," Duncan said in an interview Wednesday with CNN. But Duncan said American students are "at a competitive disadvantage" because the United States has shorter school years than other countries such as India and China.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

If American students are "at a competitive disadvantage", perhaps it's because they are taught not to think critically, not taught to see through irrational fallacies, taught "to the test" - and fostered within them is the idea that competition is a must (there must be winners and losers created or it doesn't count) and never mind that cooperation is what makes winners of everyone.

March 1, 2009 7:13 AM  
Blogger Lars said...

Ah, will this be another unfunded mandate passed down from on high by the technocrats that know better than us? With massive teacher layoffs and underfunding of schools already, how will we extend the school year?

Also, I simply do not buy the notion that American students are at any disadvantage. We have dispersed, relatively locally controlled and funded schools. Quality will naturally fluctuate across all these schools. On top of this, America still loosely holds to a mandate to provide education to all of it's citizens without forcing any curriculum pathways on them (say, routing into vocational education). The same can certainly not be said of other countries that use standardized testing to segregate "strong" from "weak" students at very early ages.

Finally, for all of these other countries proficiencies on standardized tests, they cannot compete with America for creativity and innovation. I work in the science and see this all the time. Japan and Germany for instance are scientific power houses, but their systems are fairly rigid and the work they produce tends (generalization I know) to be of great technical significance, but rarely of a nature that expands new fields, challenges current theories, or innovates bold new technology.

March 1, 2009 8:01 AM  
Blogger lodesterre said...

Of course this means he will fix all the poorly working air-conditioners in schools where the summers are known to be brutal - such as Washington, DC - right? I had temperatures reach 96 degrees in my room one fine August Day. My students were getting sick and passing out left and right.

March 1, 2009 12:51 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

America is generating,in public school..private school...Universities...generation after generation of educated, robotic idiots. Willy Lomans with a 4 year degree who expect to walk into a six figure salary, BMW and gated McMansion upon graduation.



March 1, 2009 11:25 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Summer vacation needs to be longer NOT shorter. Kids and teachers both need time off. Your brain and body need the rest and diversion.

March 2, 2009 2:44 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I thinkit's about time this subject is put on the table. Summer vacation is a holdover from an agrarian siciety that no longer exists, and as any teacher will tell you they spend the first month of a new school year getting the kids back on track from the year before.
I also agree that both students and teachers need time to regroup and have a breather, but the two ideas are not incompatible. You have a twelve month school year with many breaks spread throughout. There are many subkects that can be taught out of doors in warmer weather, such as physics, botany, etc...
I also agree with the remarks for a need to teach critical thinking and believe that should be instituted much earler.
Summer vacation is disruptive and a burden for most families in many ways.
I am all for the idea of a full-year school year

March 10, 2009 2:38 PM  

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